Story Summary

Sen. Mark Kirk returns to Washington following stroke

Nearly a year after suffering a major stroke, Senator Mark Kirk is getting back to work in Washington.

He marked the occasion by climbing all 45 steps of the Capitol with a little help from Vice President Joe Biden.

Story Timeline
Previous Next
This story has 9 updates

Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., held his first public appearance in Illinois since suffering a stroke in January 2012.

Appearing with U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., he met the press at Great Lakes Naval Academy and took all questions on a variety of subjects including sequestration and President Obama’s latest cabinet nomination, Penny Pritzker.

Durbin and Kirk’s intention was to demonstrate bipartisan support for the Naval Base and a charter school, but with a prominent limp and slow gait, Kirk was never far from the stroke that sidelined him from the Senate for a year.

“Rehab works,” the Republican senator said Friday as he toured LEARN Public Charter School and advocated for more charters to open in the suburbs.

Kirk told reporters that part of his new mission now is to tell everyone in Illinois who has a medical issue or has a parent with a medical issue, that they should call him and he would cheer them up.

Kirk entered the school with the help of a wheel chair. Inside the school, he walked a bit with a four-pronged cane.

He switched back to the wheelchair but got out of it while he visited students.

Kirk suffered the stroke in early 2012, and after a year in rehabilitation, learning to walk and talk once again, he returned to the Senate January 3, 2013.

Illinois Senator Mark Kirk returned to Washington today,  nearly one year after suffering a stroke.

Kirk climbed the steps of the capitol building in Washington D.C. Thursday morning.  800,000 Americans become stroke victims each year. Today’s symbolic climb of the senate stairs was Mark Kirk’ s journey to give hope to others.

The junior senator from Illinois was welcomed back to work with grandeur, applause and great warmth on a cold Washington day. Vice President Biden was on his right, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia on his left and Senator Dick Durbin close by.  With the help of a cane and the encouragement of his fellow members of congress, Kirk made the climb up the capitol steps.

Senators and congressman from coast to coast filled the senate steps, John Kerry from Massachusetts, Al Franken from Minnesota and Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, all of them busy during the holidays with the fiscal cliff hanging in the balance but still they made time for Kirk’s great climb today.

His Chicago doctors and physical therapy team were present, too. Over the past 12 months, they know better than anyone the struggle, both mental and physical, that Kirk has had to endure.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Nearly a year after suffering a major stroke, Senator Mark Kirk is getting back to work in Washington.

The Highland Park Republican climbed 45 steps outside the U.S. Capitol Building this morning.  His doctors say it was really a journey to give hope to others.

Kirk’s neurosurgeon, Dr. Richard Fessler of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and medical personnel from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago were on hand in Washington to witness the climb.

Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Dick Durbin and Congressman Bobby Rush were among dozens of colleagues and supporters who cheered Kirk as he climbed the steps.

Kirk took several pauses as he made his way up the stairs, stopping to wave and at one point yelling to the crowd, “Let’s get to work guys!”

Kirk missed the last 12 months in the Senate as he recovered in Chicago from the stroke he suffered in January of 2012.

His doctors say, to get to this point is tremendous.  They say his recovery is mental, as well as physical.

The doctors say when he began his recovery Kirk was barely able to balance himself.  Now he can walk almost by himself with the help of a cane.

Senator Mark Kirk climbs Capitol steps, retuns to Senate after stroke

Senator Mark Kirk is returning to Capitol Hill Thursday morning, nearly a year after suffering a stroke.

Kirk will mark his return by climbing the 45-steps of the Capitol building in Washington D.C.

He’ll be greeted at the top by Vice President Biden, Senator Durbin and other Congressional colleagues.

This climb is two months after Kirk climbed 37 flights of stairs in a charity event at the Willis Tower.

The Senator has endured surgeries and intensive physical therapy in his rehabilitation.


Senator Mark Kirk is returning to work Thursday at the Capitol Hill nearly a year after he suffered a stroke.

The senator will climb the 45 steps of the capitol building tomorrow morning and will be greeted by Vice President Joe Biden and his congressional colleagues.

WGNTV’s Julie Unruh will have live reports from Washington DC starting tomorrow morning.

Illinois Senator Mark Kirk will receive a special welcome back when he returns to Capitol Hill Thursday.
Kirk spent most of the year recovering from a stroke and set a personal goal to walk up the capitol steps.
When he gets there, Vice President Joe Biden will greet him.
Kirk got some practice last month when he climbed 37 flights of stairs in a charity event at the Willis tower.
The senator has already visited his senate offices and met with aides to discuss his return to work.

Sen. Mark Kirk, who suffered a large stroke in January, plans to return to the Senate floor on Jan. 3, the first day of the new Congress, Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Ill., said Thursday.

Senator Mark Kirk says he plans to return to Washington next month.

It’s been almost a year since Kirk suffered a stroke.

He has had multiple surgeries, including operations to reduce swelling around his brain.

But he still stayed politically active, while undergoing rehabilitation therapy.

A month ago, Kirk showed off his physical fitness by climbing 37 flights of stairs at the Willis Tower.